When media crosses the border to politics
(First of Two Parts)
Under every stone lurks a politician, Aristophanes said. Perhaps this is true for all of us. Everyone might not be running for an elective position, but at some point, all of us have something to do with politics and more definitely so, all of us have something to say about politics.
And for the not-so-few who are indeed gunning for an elective seat, not only do they become politicians, they become the politics and the blocks that make up our political system as well.
So how do press people, who are considered as the watchdog of a democratic society, reconcile their duty to report without fear or favor whatever is happening in our government when they themselves intend to be elected into it? How do they reconcile these seemingly different, relatively inconsistent, and at times, downright contradicting sides of public service?
With just three days to go before the May 9 elections, campaign sorties are becoming more intense, the mudslinging more crass, and platform promises more exaggerated.
Media personalities now dabbling in politics are aware of these practices and even more of how these are viewed by the public.
Indeed, they have the edge of knowing the electorate at a more basic level, having mingled and interacted with people from all walks of life in their media days.
Yet despite this seeming advantage, the question remains — will their media experience make them or break them as they pursue elective office?
MEDIA BACKGROUND AS A POLITICAL BOOST
Cebu Provincial Board Member Julian Daan is no stranger to media, having been in television and radio for more years than he has as a politician. More famous for his moniker “Teban,” he was the other half of the comedy duo “Teban ug Goliat,” a radio show staple that had been bringing laughter to listeners for more than three decades.
(Editors note: Radioman Alan “Goliat” Nacorda is also eyeing a seat in the Cebu City Council on Monday’s elections while Daan who is on his last term as provincial board member has fielded his wife Yolly to take his place.)
Daan got his start in the media industry as a radio actor back in 1969. He entered politics after the People Power revolution in 1986, when he ran for barangay councilor in Tabunok. From there, he moved on to become a Talisay councilor for three terms.
According to Daan, he always had political aspirations even as a kid and admits that the political discourses of Natalio “Talyux” Bacalso had been a big influence on him.
“Ako sa bata pa ko, mahilig na ko sa politika kay fan man kaayo atong Talyux Bacalso, kadtong number one commentator sa politika. Mao na siya’y sikat kaayo kaniadto. Maminaw gyud ko ana niya hangtod sa kadlawon. Mao nang naa na jud ko’y hilig sa politika.” (Since childhood, I have always liked politics because I was a fan of Talyux Bacalso, the number one political commentator. He was very famous and I would listen to him till dawn. That’s why I’ve always been interested in politics), he says.
With a number of radio programs and shows well-loved by listeners under his belt, Daan admits that a media background is indeed a very big help when entering politics.
“Dako jud og matabang if naa ka sa media. Parehas ron sa ako, kay drama man gud ni unya mi-click man akong drama . . . daghan kaayo og fans,” he adds.
(It really helps a lot if you are in the media, just like me being in a popular radio drama . . . there are a lot of fans.)
Daan explains that the popularity of his programs and radio shows translates into votes during the previous elections.
He also points that his media involvement enables him to serve the public better as it provides him with the means to listen to the voice of the masses and to hear their pleas on a more personal level.
For 38-year-old Malou Ouano Inocando-Tabar, a media background definitely presents an advantage when it comes to dealing with people.
Tabar is a morning show host and station manager of the Cebu Catholic Television Network (CCTN) and has been in the media industry for 16 years. She has also worked in the corporate sector and is a lecturer in St. Theresa’s College.
As a former barangay councilor and barangay captain of Banilad, the niece of outgoing city councilor Lea Japson, and the granddaughter of former city councilor and Cebu City Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) chief Ananias Ouano, Tabar is no stranger to politics as well.
She is currently running for a seat in the Cebu City Council under Bando Osmeña–Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK).
Tabar understands the pressures of juggling a media profession and an elective office.
“You see, when you’re a journalist, you see the shortcomings of the government,” she says.
“Maulaw sad ta, nga bisan aware na ta ana, mosuon pud ta (It would be embarrassing that even if we are aware of it, we would follow.) As journalists, we have to offer a different kind of service,” says Tabar.
Meanwhile, Cebu gubernatorial aspirant Boyet “Klasmayt” Cortes (Independent) has a different take on the matter.
Starting his media experience as a Bombo Radyo reporter in 1989 before moving on to Radio Veritas, Cortes says that he got into the media because it was the only industry that would accept him when he was just starting out.
“So ako sad nang garbo gamay nga na-belong ko diha, (So this also makes me proud that I belong in the media),” he says.
Cortes adds that one major advantage of having a media background before running for political office is knowing the people better and becoming more aware of their needs.
It was also through media, he says, that he was able to serve the public even before running for elective office, with his show “Let’s Do Business” that’s been airing for 10 years.
Cortes concedes that media also has the power to move people’s perception towards certain directions even though at times, what is presented by some is not the entire truth. (Conclusion: A conflict of interest)
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